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Origins of "Wild Weasel" aircraft

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  • Bager1968
    Rank 5 Registered User

    Origins of "Wild Weasel" aircraft

    First the US side...

    An exerpt from the combat career of Victor Tatelman USAAF/USAF:

    http://www.eaf51.org/newweb/Document...acific_ENG.pdf

    That mission nominally completed Captain Tatelman's tour of duty. Because of his college engineering background, however, he was selected for a special mission. He was given a .45-caliber pistol, a briefcase was chained to his wrist, and he became a courier. He was told to report to a certain room number at the Pentagon in a week's time. When he did so, he found himself involved in an intensive three-month training session on radar and radar countermeasures at such places as Wright Field, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, IBM and installations at Boca Raton and Orlando, Fla.

    A major U.S. concern was whether the Wurtzburg radar, developed in Germany for ranging anti-aircraft artillery, had been shared with the Japanese. An increase in the accuracy of Japanese anti-aircraft fire would clearly have been an unwelcome development in the Pacific theater at that juncture, and American authorities hoped to take steps to counteract it. Tatelman learned about chaff, rope, window and electronic countermeasures jamming that would be available in the Pacific if needed. He also learned how to tell what countermeasures would likely be required in a given situation.

    Returning to the Pacific, Tatelman became a member of MacArthur's Section 22 (Intelligence), now stationed in the Philippines. His job was to attend heavy bomber briefings and to brief airmen on countermeasures against radar-operated anti-aircraft emplacements. The captain soon learned that the bomber crews were not too concerned about the accuracy of AAA. What really did bother them was that the Japanese always seemed to know they were coming. The enemy could no longer be taken by surprise, it seemed. The Japanese appeared to have developed an early warning radar capability.

    Remembering that Bell Labs had shown him equipment for homing on radar, Captain Tatelman proposed to his bosses that he obtain that equipment, then go after the early warning radar and destroy it. His proposal was approved, and Tatelman had it installed in a B-25D, which was configured in such a way that the homer could be conveniently placed in the now single-pilot cockpit. Within two weeks the aircraft was
    given a complete overhaul at Biak and outfitted with two new engines, an eight-gun nose, rocket launchers on the wings and a new name -- Dirty Dora II.

    The civilian expert who had installed the homing equipment in Dirty Dora II flew with Tatelman a few times to adjust the equipment and check out how well it was operating. The expert became so interested in the project that he volunteered to fly as the equipment operator in actual search operations during combat. That arrangement worked out so well that he continued to fly with Tatelman on subsequent
    missions.

    As a practical matter, Tatelman got himself, his crew and Dirty Dora II assigned temporary duty with the 499th Bats Outa Hell for rations, quarters and aircraft maintenance, to which he did not have access as a member of MacArthur's Section 22. His target areas were assigned through Bomber Command, generally in areas where B-24 crews had reported their suspicions that the Japanese were waiting for them, a giveaway that they had had an early warning. Tatelman would fly out to the area indicated and search for radar signals. If he discovered any, he followed them to their source, where he bombed, strafed and fired rockets at the transmitter.

    During 20 missions operating out of Clark Field, he and his crew destroyed eight radars, and after the first few they even brought back photographs of their attacks. Tatelman earned a second DFC for proposing and carrying out the radar destruction missions, as well as a Purple Heart for a leg wound he suffered while overflying an enemy-held island north of Luzon. After that mission he recalled hearing a "pop" and seeing a hole open up in the right wall of the cockpit. Later, when he reached into the knee pocket of his flying suit for a cigarette, he found the pocket full of blood. Whatever had made the hole in the cockpit wall had also grazed his knee -- fortunately, without doing any severe damage.

    On one of those early radar-busting missions, a ground control unit in northern Luzon asked for help in taking out a tank that was holding up the infantry advance. They located the tank behind a barn, and Tatelman circled the tank while a waist gunner raked it with his .50-caliber machine gun, setting it on fire and putting it out of the fight. Using the waist gun saved nose gun ammunition for later use on a radar station. Tatelman got a commendation from the ground commander for that action.


    So what about the British side... as well as other nations?

    How and when did they develop their anti-radar capabilities?
    Last edited by Bager1968; 18th November 2010, 23:19.
    Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria's pint.
  • JDK
    JDK
    Mr Tweed

    #2
    The first anti radar aircraft-used countermeasure used that comes to mind of is 'Window' and there's a fascinating rare story of both sides avoiding first use to avoid 'blowing' the countermeasure's existance.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaff_%...ntermeasure%29

    Beam bending was the other item (used prior) and ground based spoofing of enemy R/T dates to the Battle of Britain. Actually attacking radar using on it's signal (as against attacking it just on known / observed location) I'm not aware of other examples. Would be interesting.

    I was awaiting the explanation of origin of the term 'Wild Weasel' as well...
    Initially known by the operational code "IRON HAND" when first authorized on August 12, 1965, the term "Wild Weasel" derives from Project Wild Weasel, the USAF development program for a dedicated SAM-detection and suppression aircraft. (The technique {or a specific part} was also called an 'Iron Hand' mission, though technically the Iron Hand part refers only to a suppression attack that paves the way for the main strike.[3]) Originally named "Project Ferret", denoting a predatory animal that goes into its prey's den to kill it (hence: "to ferret out"), the name was changed to differentiate it from the code-name "Ferret" that had been used during World War II for radar counter-measures bombers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Weasel

    My bold - no details provided.

    More details of RAF W.W.II electronics here: http://books.google.com/books?id=RBC...rcraft&f=false
    Last edited by JDK; 19th November 2010, 06:09.
    James K

    Looking and thinking...
    Vintage Aero Writer: Blog & Details

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    • GrahamSimons
      Rank 5 Registered User

      #3
      Yeah - I'd discovered it was changed by the USAF to code-name Wild Weasel from the RAF's codename Furious Ferrett .... and the P***ed off Polecat.... (ok... I'll get my coat!)

      Being serious - anyone interested in early RAF ECM wants to search out details of 100 Group - indeed the thread on Mosquito DD736 was from 1962 Bomber Support Training Unit and is mentioned elsewhere here I've covered it in detail in a couple of books, and there was an excellent article in Aeroplane Monthly some years back by I forget who!

      Early ECM ranged from huge Jostle transmitters in the bomb-bays of RAF B-17s through to a simple microphone next to the engine to pick up and re-broadcast engine sounds to Luftwaffe radar controllers.

      Just about every RAF Bomber Command type of aircraft was used - another good source of information is Proffessor R V Jones' book Most Secret War. which tells of early German radar beam interceptions by Wellington over Spalding in Lincolnshire in 1940 if I remember correctly.
      Last edited by GrahamSimons; 19th November 2010, 10:46.
      Interested in what I'm doing? Please visit http://gmsenterprises.blogspot.com/

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      • Moggy C
        Moderator

        #4
        I remember a comment on the News Quiz when Ian Hislop mentioned that the US ground forces were trying to flush Bin Laden out of the Tora Bora Caves. They nicknamed the area "The Caves of Death". The UK forces involved on the other hand were trying to get into "Tara Palmer Tomkinsons Cave"

        Military stuff always sounds so much better with a gung ho pseudonym

        Moggy
        "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

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        • Bager1968
          Rank 5 Registered User

          #5
          I am aware of early countermeasures.

          What I was asking about was the start of deliberate efforts by British (and other non-US) air forces to destroy enemy radar installations at close range (as opposed to high-altitude bombing or sabotage).

          Were any Mossies (or other aircraft) equipped with radar detection equipment and sent out to "follow the beams back" and attack the radar with weapons as opposed to jamming or spoofing set-ups?
          Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria's pint.

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          • JDK
            JDK
            Mr Tweed

            #6
            I am aware of saying not that I'm aware of any examples. Negative evidence only.

            Thinking about why that may be, the idea of using a a detector-equipped aircraft to actually follow through an attack isn't in line with British reluctance to risk new technologies to enemy capture, return spoofing or actual (un-necessary) combat loss. A 'hunter & killer' team would in many ways be more sensible, minimising risk to the skilled operators and equipment, assuming radio direction, AOP / FAC style, would work. Just thinking aloud, and no criticism of the original innovating team.

            Another possible reason for the lack of European Wild Weasel W.W.II innovation as against in the Pacific was the greater distances and localised poorly supplied Japanese hotspots were worth tackling which would make hole in their defences / awareness. German radar and detection was in many, overlapping complex known (avoided) hotbeds and taking out individual or local units would not have more than an overnight benefit, logistics not being such an issue there.

            Interesting question.
            James K

            Looking and thinking...
            Vintage Aero Writer: Blog & Details

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            • Bager1968
              Rank 5 Registered User

              #7
              That makes sense... higher risk from the far better German AA facilities and units for a known lower benefit would make the case for relying on other means to defeat the German radar stations.
              Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria's pint.

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              • abadonna
                Rank 5 Registered User

                #8
                RAF aircraft conducted attacks against German radar stations in the build-up to D-Day. I believe the stations were detected by Elint and PR. A lot of the radar stations were small targets, unsuited to attack by high-level bombing: thus attacks were carried out by Typhoons and Spitfires at low level with bombs, rockets and cannon (1,700 sorties in all). A hazardous business. A flight of Typhoons was apparently equipped with the Abdullah homing device, tuned to the target radar: these aircraft being intended to lead other aircraft onto the target.

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                • JDK
                  JDK
                  Mr Tweed

                  #9
                  Fascinating stuff, abadonna. Can you provide any references or sources for this?
                  James K

                  Looking and thinking...
                  Vintage Aero Writer: Blog & Details

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                  • abadonna
                    Rank 5 Registered User

                    #10
                    My reference was "AP 3407. The Second World War 1939-45, Royal Air Force, Signals Vol 7, Radio Counter-Measures". A fascinating source if you're interested in Second World War RCM. The attacks on German radar stations are briefly covered in Chapter 18.

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                    • JDK
                      JDK
                      Mr Tweed

                      #11
                      Many thanks for that, and welcome to the forum!

                      Always nice to see a new 'face' and new (to me at least) info.

                      Regards,
                      James K

                      Looking and thinking...
                      Vintage Aero Writer: Blog & Details

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                      • Bager1968
                        Rank 5 Registered User

                        #12
                        What JDK said, definitely.

                        Well, that does help answer my question... there were RAF close-range anti-radar strikes similar in concept (although different in application) to the US ones.
                        Germany, Austria and Italy are standing together in the middle of the pub, when Serbia bumps into Austria, and spills Austria's pint.

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